It might sound simple, but removing a tree from your property isn’t just a matter of having a tree… and removing it. There are very specific methods that need to be followed and safety concerns that need to be addressed in tree removal — if you don’t, you could end up hurting someone or destroying someone’s property. Hiring someone that has experience with tree removal — even if your situation seems simple — is always a good idea.
Forming a Plan
The first thing to do before approaching the tree is to crunch some numbers. Estimate the height of the tree and its distance to nearby objects and structures. Once you have this information, you will be able to determine the safest direction whereby you will take down the tree.
If space is particularly limited, you may need to fell the tree in chunks. For example, if the largest available space is 50′ wide and the tree is 120′ tall, you’ll want to do it in 3 40′ cuts. (Before you tackle the trunk, however, you’ll need to take off all of the branches, starting from the bottom and working your way up.)
Once you start in on the trunk, you have several factors working against (or sometimes for) you. You have the natural lean of the tree, which will be the easiest direction to fell the tree in — unless of course there’s a building or other immovable object in the way that you don’t want damaged.
Your tree removal plan also needs to incorporate all of your safety measures. Checking the area for electric and telephone lines, plumbing, and structures that might be damaged is key. Setting up your rigging so that an accidental fall off of the tree won’t kill you, finding a way to safely lower large branches to the ground, ensuring that your saws are properly maintained before the job begins… it’s a long list.
The most basic technique for cutting is to use a rope and harness to climb the tree, lopping off branches with a chainsaw as you go. Generally these smaller branches are left to free-fall to the ground. If there is a need for extra caution, or for larger more dangerous branches, spar pole rigging allows you to rig a branch, cut it, and have your partners lower it carefully to the ground.
The most advanced form of cutting is called whole-tree rigging. Using this technique, no one climbs up the tree — rather, the tree is brought down in large sections, each one rigged so that is can be lowered carefully to the ground, and it’s branches are lopped as it’s suspended a few feet above the ground. This is by far the most expensive and time-consuming method of tree removal, but it’s also by far the safest to the people and the surrounding property.
Removing the Stump
After the branches and the trunk have been brought down, the last part of tree removal is the stump. There are a few ways to get rid of a stump: inject it with chemicals to kill it; burn it out; digging it out; use a stump grinder; or (the natural method) simply remove the bark and wait for it to biodegrade naturally.